Food shelves needing assistancePublished 8:44am Wednesday, March 11, 2009
One young mother who came into the Ecumenical Food Shelf at First Presbyterian Church recently told volunteers that she and her husband were down to their last $10. Before they had learned about the food shelf’s existence, they were debating whether to use that money for gas or food.
Freeborn County residents wishing to donate nonperishable food items to the annual Scouting for Food drive should place that food on their doorstep or at the end of their driveway before Saturday morning.
Scouts with the Twin Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America will collect the food starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.
They are seeking nonperishable food such as canned meats, canned fish, canned fruits, canned vegetables, cereal, stews, chili and pasta products. Items such as baby formula, paper products, diapers and tissues will also be accepted. They should be placed in a bag.
“During these difficult and challenging economic times, we hope to make a difference for many families one can at a time,” said Steve Brownlow, cub master and local chairman of the Scouting for Food drive.
People can also drop off food donations at local grocery stores throughout the week or at the main entrance of the Freeborn County Fairgrounds on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
After donations are collected, sorted and boxed, they will be delivered to the Ecumenical Food Shelf at First Presbyterian Church and the food shelf at the Albert Lea Salvation Army.
Casey Swenson, volunteer at the Ecumenical Food Shelf, said donations will be appreciated as the volunteers at their facility are seeing greater numbers of people than last year and from more backgrounds.
For example, during January of 2008, 93 families came in to get food at their food shelf, while this past January 161 families came in, Swenson said.
If this continues at the same pace for the rest of the year, he said, the Ecumenical Food Shelf will have given out 70,000 pounds of food by the end of the year. Last year, food shelf volunteers gave out 57,000 pounds.
He relayed a recent experience of a woman who came in to their food shelf in need of assistance. The woman, a young mother of two, said both she and her husband had been laid off the previous Friday. She expressed that if it weren’t for the help at the food shelf, she didn’t know what her family would have done.
The Scouting for Food drive comes during Minnesota FoodShare’s March campaign, which is the largest food drive in the state to restock food shelves.
The way the campaign works is that the more food and funds that a local food shelf brings in through donations during March, the greater their share of funds from FoodShare.
The Scouting for Food drive, along with other Scouting programs, aim “to foster characteristics that strengthen communities and contribute to the health and welfare of less forunate citizens,” Brownlow said. The programs promote goodwill as part of everyday life.